I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to reading.
For as long as I can remember, I have been enamored with books. I have a distinct memory of my mother asking me as a young child to vacuum. I was reading at the time. I did vacuum. That is, vacuum in one hand, book in the other, so that I didn't have to stop reading. (I now publicly apologize to my mother that the room didn't get too clean that day.)
But oh. how my love of reading has sustained me all these years. It's been one of my first loves, and probably my longest-lasting one. It started me on a path of insatiable knowledge gain that exists to this day. There is no greater comfort to me than sitting in a chair surrounded by the warm cocoon of floor to ceiling bookshelves. Not the metal-shelves-dusty-volumes kind, but rich mahogany built-ins with a cozy armchair and fireplace. I feel the knowledge seeping off the shelves and into my brain. It's just the possibility that there is so much knowledge and exploration in the room yet to be gained.
For me, the beauty of the book is the beauty of transportation. Curl up on a winters night and transport yourself to a 19th century English village. Land on the Vegas strip. Understand how a farmer struggled to support his family during the Great Depression. Visit the culture of a Middle Eastern country. Learn the history of the spice exchange. The beauty of the book is that you can dive in, be completely absorbed and armchair travel around the world and through history. I can associate specific books with trips I've taken or periods in my life. Reading allows you to temporarily suspend your stressors and live a vicarious life. It puts my day to day concerns to the side and provides a much needed respite. Oh, the places I have gone!
You other literary-obsessed individuals understand this. You also understand the allure of bookstores, new or used. I can never, ever pass up a used bookstore. I love going to them in cities or towns I'm visiting, as I get a little insight into the literary tastes of that population. I love talking to the proprietor and feel a little positivity contributing to a small bookseller in the local economy. Plus, what girl can pass up a bargain and good people watching?
Oh sure, I cheat on my paper books now and again with my e-reader, especially when I'm traveling. But that tablet doesn't get thrown into a beach bag or have hotel stationary and postcards in it. It doesn't sit on a bookshelf and beckon me. It doesn't give me the same satisfaction to track my progress or show me how much I have left to read. I'm not hating on the e-reader, but It doesn't give me the same fulfillment of completion.
By far, my favorite routine of my day is the precious few minutes at the end of the day where I crawl into bed, turn on my bedside lamp, and read before going to sleep. It's a delicious routine that provides an insulation to outside stressors. It helps wind me down and carries me to an alternate universe. A recent study from Harvard University backs me up on this, albeit for a different reason. The study highlights that sleep is not as sound when reading an e-reader right before bed, and light from tablets or electronic devices can interfere with melatonin production. I hope these studies help to perpetuate the paper copy. Because I'm not sure I can live in a world where a paper book doesn't accompany me on a plane, curled up by the fireplace during a snowstorm, or at a beach with my toes in the water.
So yes, I'm comfortable admitting I'm addicted to reading. I would spend my last dollar on a book, and I have no shame admitting that. I love all that I've learned through books, and the comfort it gives me. And I'm ok dorking out with highlighters and Post-It flags to mark the passages that speak to me. I'm not sure about you, but I'm off to throw my paper book in my backpack, hit the beach, and be transported.